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Flying foxes nursed back to health and released on the Gold Coast

Hundreds of rehabilitated sick and injured bats are being tagged and released back to the wild on the Gold Coast.
The mainly black and little red species of flying foxes have been nursed back to health at the Australian Bat Clinic and are ready to make their own way out in the world.
Clinic director Trish Wimberley had mixed feelings about sending them off.

"We do put a fair amount of emotional support into that and so when we come to actually release them it's bittersweet," she said.

"We know that they're so important out there but you also know what can happen to them out there as well."

Rehabilitating the bats takes a lot of time and effort.

"The cost of bringing them into care … the cost of the medical treatment of them and then the feeding of them and the transport back to where they're going to be released from," she said.

"I think we worked out was $1000 a bat."

Tracking the bats

Sydney University bat expert Dr Kerryn Parry-Jones has been helping the clinic tag all of the bats.

They have been catching them with towels and swaddling them to measure, weigh and attach the tracking bands.

They vary like people; some of them are right horrors and yell and scream at you and swear
Dr Kerryn Parry-Jones, bat expert

"It's fun, there's a lot of them though, after the first hundred or so," she said with a laugh.

"We band a lot of bats."

Most of the bats are sweet-natured, but some are a handful.

"They vary like people; some of them are right horrors and yell and scream at you and swear," Dr Parry-Jones said with a laugh.

"They've obviously learned dreadful language from their rehabbers."

PHOTO: Bat expert Dr Kerryn Parry-Jones is helping catch, measure and tag hundreds of flying foxes.(ABC Gold Coast: Damien Larkins)
Setting them free

Over three weeks the clinic opens hatches on the cages at night to allow the bats to fly free.

But most do come back, at least for a little while.

"They'll be using us just as a food source, but they'll also be eating the wild food that's out there," she said.

"What they'll also be doing in that three-week period is building up their pectoral muscles so they can actually fly the long distances that they need to fly."

Ms Wimberley said the bands helped researchers track the bats' movements and health.

So far they have discovered rehabilitated bats have no problem reintegrating into wild groups.

"Giving them their little rings, their little bling is actually giving us a bit of an indication of what's happening out there with the guys," she said.

"We had one that was banded here and it went from here across to Stradbroke island and then it hip-hopped all the way down to Emu Plain in the lower Blue Mountains in 10 days."
PHOTO: Hundreds of flying foxes are nursed back to health every year by the Australian Bat Clinic.(ABC Gold Coast: Damien Larkins)

Damien Larkins
Damien is a cross media reporter for ABC Gold Coast. You'll see him exploring the Gold Coast beaches, suburbs and hinterland, with cameras and recorders strapped to his back. If you've got a story idea, contact Damien on Twitter @mrdlark


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BatsRule!: Flying foxes nursed back to health and released on the Gold Coast
Flying foxes nursed back to health and released on the Gold Coast
Flying foxes nursed back to health and released on the Gold Coast
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